Bartle Frere Trail

The Bartle Frere trail can be accessed from the coast at Josephine Falls or from the west via the Atherton Tableland. From the summit you can return to your starting point or continue to complete the 15 kilometre trail.

From Josephine Falls

Josephine Falls is 75 kilometres south of Cairns. Turn right off the Bruce Highway two kilometres south of Miriwinni and drive eight kilometres to Josephine Falls. Access is suitable for conventional vehicles.

From Atherton Tableland

From Malanda, travel 5.5 kilometres along the Malanda–Yungaburra road then turn into Topaz Road and travel two kilometrespast Butchers Creek School. Turn left to Lamins Hill lookout—this gravel road can be slippery when wet—and follow the signs for seven kilometres to the end of Gourka Road and the national park boundary. Junction camp, two kilometres along the track, marks the start of the walking trail.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible tracks or facilities along the Bartle Frere trail.

Trail features

The Bartle Frere trail provides opportunities for fit, experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers to access the rugged wilderness of the Bellenden Ker Range, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

You will discover the unique vegetation and wildlife of the upland and lowland rainforests as you climb to the summit of Bartle Frere, Queensland's highest peak. On a clear day, enjoy stunning views stretching from the coast to the Atherton Tableland.

Natural, cultural and historical values make this walk special.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Four camping areas have been established along the trail: Junction camp, Western Summit camp, Eastern Summit camp and Big Rock camp. Bush camping is also allowed along any part of the trail if required. No facilities are provided. There is an evacuation hut at the Eastern Summit camp for emergency use only. It should not be relied upon for shelter. There is a small creek at Western Summit camp but no guaranteed water along the trail. Treat all water before drinking.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. All camping along the Bartle Frere trail must be pre-booked—self-registration at camping areas is not possible. Bookings are not for specific camping areas, but for the trail as a whole.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around the towns between Townsville and Cairns and on the Atherton Tableland. These include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, farm stays, eco-lodges, caravan parks and commercial camping areas.

Walking options

The Bartle Frere trail is not for everyone. Be aware that walkers have been lost for several days in this area, despite widespread searches. Walkers must be well-prepared and responsible for their own safety. See things to know before you go and staying safe for further information.

Although well marked, the trail is unformed and very steep. Walkers must be prepared for rock scrambling in places. Only experienced and extremely fit bushwalkers should attempt the trail.

Walk times are approximate only. They are based on what an average walker would expect to travel in good conditions. You will need to adjust these times to suit your group's level of experience and fitness. Remember to allow plenty of extra time for rest, meal breaks and sightseeing.

When walking, always follow your movements on a map. Distance markers have been placed along the entire length of the trail at one kilometre intervals. These indicate the distance to the east or west trailheads for the walk. For example, '3W' means three kilometres to the west trailhead. This can help to accurately pinpoint your location and monitor your progress.

From the summit you can return to your starting point or continue to the other side. If you plan to walk from one end of the trail to the other, be sure to make private transport arrangements.

Walks from Josephine Falls

Josephine Falls to Broken Nose—10 kilometres return (allow eight hours) Grade: difficult

Josephine Falls to Big Rock camp

The walk from Josephine Falls carpark to Big Rock camp is relatively easy, with only a moderate climb (rising 400 metres over three kilometres; allow about two hours).

Big Rock camp to Broken Nose

The trail to Broken Nose branches off the main Bartle Frere trail at Big Rock camp. The climb from Big Rock camp to Broken Nose is steep (rising 400 metres over two kilometres; allow about two hours) and there is no water along the trail. Broken Nose offers excellent views of the coast and the Atherton Tableland. The trail returns to Josephine Falls along the same route.

Many campers choose to leave their overnight packs at Big Rock camp and carry only day packs on the climb.

Josephine Falls to Bartle Frere summit—15 kilometres return (allow two days) Grade: difficult

The trail starts at an altitude of 100 metres and rises to 1622 metres at the summit; an average gradient of one in five.

Josephine Falls to Big Rock camp

The walk from Josephine Falls carpark to Big Rock camp is relatively easy, with only a moderate climb (rising 400 metres over three kilometres; allow about two hours). Many campers choose to leave their overnight packs at Big Rock camp and carry only day packs to the Bartle Frere summit.

Big Rock camp to Eastern Summit camp

This section is a steep climb (rising 1000 metres over four kilometres; allow about five hours). The remains of an old mine are 100 metre off the trail at Eastern Summit camp, but take care as the descent to the mine is steep. There is a camping pad at Eastern Summit camp that you are encouraged to use to reduce impacts on the environment. Do not leave equipment on the camping pad during the day as the pad may be used to land a helicopter in an emergency.

Those camping overnight will enjoy the beautiful sunset and sunrise, weather permitting.

Eastern Summit camp to Bartle Frere summit

The final ascent (rising 300 metres over 500 metres; allow about one hour) to the broad summit of Bartle Frere requires scrambling over boulders and can be slippery when wet. For your safety, grip bars have been installed to help you through the boulder field. Enjoy fabulous views over the township of Innisfail and the coast to the east. To the west you will see the undulating landscape of the Atherton Tableland.

From the summit, walkers can either return to Josephine Falls or continue on to Junction camp.

Josephine Falls to Junction camp—15 kilometres one way (allow 10–12 hours) Grade: difficult

The trail from Josephine Falls to Bartle Frere summit is described above. The trail from the summit to the Atherton Tableland is described below under: Walks from Atherton Tableland.

Walks from the Atherton Tableland

Junction camp to Bartle Frere summit—15 kilometres return (allow two days) Grade: difficult

The trail starts at 700 metres altitude and rises to 1622 metres at the summit; an average gradient of one in eight.


View Larger Map

Junction camp to North West Peak (five hours )

The trail starts at Junction camp. A short distance from the start of the trail is a turn-off to the picturesque Bobbin Bobbin Falls. The trail to North West Peak is steep (rising 700 metres over 5 kilometres). This part of the trail has occasional rock scrambles and long sections of continuous uphill walking.

North West Peak to Western Summit camp (two hours)

On a clear day, enjoy excellent views of Bellenden Ker and the Mulgrave River valley from an exposed outcrop of rocks one kilometre from North West Peak. The trail continues to Western Summit camp. This campsite is in a very small clearing beside a creek. The site is suitable as a rest point before the climb to the summit, or as a campsite for an overnight stay.

Western Summit camp to Bartle Frere summit (one hour)

From Western Summit camp it is 750 metres to the summit. The trail becomes a scramble over and through numerous granite boulders to the broad summit of Bartle Frere. This part of the climb can be very slippery when wet. Enjoy fabulous views over the township of Innisfail and the coast to the east. To the west, enjoy views of the undulating landscape of the Atherton Tableland.

From the summit, walkers can either return to Junction camp or continue to Josephine Falls.

Junction camp to Josephine Falls—15 kilometres one way (allow two days) Grade: difficult

The trail from Junction camp to Bartle Frere summit is described above. The trail from the summit to Josephine Falls is described under: Walks from Josephine Falls.

Design by W3Layouts | Content © 2013 Phoenix Group Co. | Sales: phone 1300 753 517, email: sales@pleasureholidays.com.au